Congress MLAs in Gujarat make a beeline for the BJP

Bukkal Nawab

In a rude jolt to the Congres in Gujarat, three more of its MLAs resigned today taking the number of legislators who quit to six ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls, for which the party has fielded its heavyweight Ahmed Patel.

However, they are yet to file nominations.

While Shah would debut in the Parliament as Rajya Sabha member, this would be Irani's second term from Gujarat.

"Both leaders will contest from Gujarat, where three seats will fall vacant in September".

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Congress suffered another setback in Gujarat on Thursday as three of its MLAs quit the party to join the BJP. He had contested Assembly elections from Siddhpur constituency in 1998 as Congress candidate but lost to BJP's Jay Narayan Vyas.

Sources say that Smriti Irani could well become the full-time I&B Minister. A relative of Vaghela, he is the chairman and managing director of Gokul Refoils and Solvents Ltd, a leading edible oil manufacturing company and was one of the richest MLAs elected in 2012 with assets worth Rs269 crore. On Friday, one of the Congress turncoats, Balwantsinh Rajput, filed his nomination as the third BJP candidate.

The Congress made a decision to confine its 44 Gujarat MLAs outside the state until Rajya Sabha elections are held in Gujarat. "Some party colleagues have tried to hurt my reputation in the party due to my family relations with Shankersinh Vaghela". Patel was expected to win the third seat comfortably, until Vaghela chose to raise the banner of revolt. But with Nitish Kumar's JD (U) joining the NDA bandwagon, the vote of its sole MLA, Chhotu Vasava, remains uncertain. "It is the innate belief of these MLAs in Congress ideology and their impeccable integrity that deterred the conspirators and resulted into an absolute failure of their conspiracy to cause defections through allurements", the Congress said.

As many as 36 MLAs (out of 57) had in April urged the central leadership to declare Vaghela as the CM candidate.

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"The Parliamentary board has chose to field our party chief Amit Shah and Textile and I&B minister Smriti Irani for the Gujarat Rajya Sabha seats", he said.

Besides, the Congress hopes two NCP lawmakers will vote for Patel.

He alleged that Congress Gujarat MLA Punabhai Gamit was offered Rs 10 crore by the BJP.

Unlike voting for the President, Rajya Sabha elections are by way of an open ballot.

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